Dyspraxia at a glance…

What is Dyspraxia?

Movement Matters, an umbrella organization representing major national groups in the UK that represent people with coordination difficulties offers the following definition:

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. DCD is formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation. DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke, and occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. Individuals may vary in how their difficulties present: these may change over time depending on environmental demands and life experiences, and will persist into adulthood.

An individual’s coordination difficulties may affect participation and functioning of everyday life skills in education, work and employment. Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play as well as other educational and recreational activities. In adulthood many of these difficulties will continue, as well as learning new skills at home, in education and work, such as driving a car and DIY. There may be a range of co-occurring difficulties which can also have serious negative impacts on daily life. These include social and emotional difficulties as well as problems with time management, planning and personal organisation, and these may also affect an adult’s education or employment experiences.
http://www.movementmattersuk.org/default.aspx

The Dyspraxia Foundation adds to the Movement Matters description, recognising the many non-motor difficulties that may also be experienced by people with the condition and which can have a significant impact on daily life activities. These include memory, perception and processing as well as additional problems with planning, organising and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations. Although dyspraxia may occur in isolation, it frequently coexists with other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, language disorders and social, emotional and behavioural impairments.

The Dyspraxia Foundation also provides support to people affected by verbal dyspraxia (also known as ‘childhood apraxia of speech’) which can occur alongside motor coordination difficulties, or as a separate condition. A definition and information about verbal dyspraxia is provided separately.
Dyspraxia Foundation ( 2015)

What causes Dyspraxia?

For the majority of those with the condition, there is no known cause. Current research suggests that it is due to an immaturity of neurone development in the brain rather than to brain damage. People with dyspraxia have no clinical neurological abnormality to explain their condition.

How would I recognise a child with Dyspraxia?

The pre-school child

  • Is late in reaching milestones e.g. rolling over, sitting, standing, walking, and speaking
  • May not be able to run, hop, jump, or catch or kick a ball although their peers can do so
  • Has difficulty in keeping friends; or judging how to behave in company
  • Has little understanding of concepts such as ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘in front of’ etc
  • Has difficulty in walking up and down stairs
  • Poor at dressing
  • Slow and hesitant in most actions
  • Appears not to be able to learn anything instinctively but must be taught skills
  • Falls over frequently
  • Poor pencil grip
  • Cannot do jigsaws or shape sorting games
  • Artwork is very immature
  • Often anxious and easily distracted

The school age child

  • Probably has all the difficulties experienced by the pre-school child with dyspraxia, with little or no improvement
  • Avoids PE and games
  • Does badly in class but significantly better on a one-to -one basis
  • Reacts to all stimuli without discrimination and attention span is poor
  • May have trouble with maths and writing structured stories
  • Experiences great difficulty in copying from the blackboard
  • Writes laboriously and immaturely
  • Unable to remember and /or follow instructions
  • Is generally poorly organised